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Financial Consultant: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a financial consultant. Get a quick view of the requirements, as well as details about job duties, outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Financial consultants work with clients to develop individualized financial plans for savings, retirement, investments and insurance. They spend much of their time marketing their business and recruiting new clients. Many become both certified in financial planning and licensed to sell financial products.

Required EducationBachelor's degree
Additional Requirements State license; voluntary certification may be required by some employers
Projected Job Growth* (2012-2022) 27% for personal financial advisors
Median Salary* (2014) $81,060 annually for personal financial advisors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Financial Consultant Job Description

Financial consultants work with companies or individuals to plan for their financial futures by offering information and guidance on topics that include taxes, investments and insurance decisions. Often called financial advisors, these consultants work closely with clients to offer personalized financial advice. Consultants may also direct the buying and selling of stocks and bonds for their clients. Some consultants work for consulting firms that focus on the financial needs of specific businesses or industries.

Duties of a Financial Consultant

Consultants meet personally with clients to assess their financial situation in order to present a financial plan that includes both short- and long-term financial goals. Consultants help clients with financial planning decisions for retirement, education, day-to-day expenses and investments. They meet regularly with clients to assess how life changes such as marriage, job change or the birth of a child will affect the client's financial plan. In addition, many consultants are licensed to buy and sell financial products such as insurance policies, stocks and bonds.

Consultants spend much of their time reaching out to prospective clients and building a strong customer base. This means consultants often travel or work non-traditional hours to meet with clients in their homes or businesses. Consultants may also offer financial planning classes or seminars to reach out to potential clients.

Requirements

Financial consultants have a bachelor's or graduate degree. Some colleges and universities offer degrees in financial consulting. Others offer more generalized degrees for those wanting to enter this career path. Prospective financial consultants earn degrees in finance, math, business or economics as preparation for the field.

Certifications, such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential help consultants improve their professional standing and are looked on favorably by employers. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards issues the certification, which requires applicants to have three years of relevant experience and a bachelor's degree. In addition, applicants must pass a comprehensive exam that covers key aspects of the financial planning process. Furthermore, candidates for certification must adhere to a code of ethics and complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years in order to remain current in the ever-changing field of financial planning.

Consultants must be licensed and registered with their particular state and the Securities Exchange Commission if they sell securities. The variety of licenses needed by financial consultants depends on the products they wish to offer their clients. Those who sell insurance products must also be licensed by a state board.

Salary and Job Outlook

As of 2014, the median annual wage for personal financial advisors, a career related to that of financial consultants, was $81,060, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects employment in this field will grow much faster than average during the 2012-2022 decade, at a rate of 27%.

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